Monday, August 15, 2011

Welcome to the Inaugural Post of Making It Work in the Middle!

School starts just one week from today, and I finally feel like I'm ready to start tackling planning.  Last year was a difficult one for me, both professionally and personally, and I'm looking forward to a better year this year!

One of the ways I am setting myself up for success is through this blog.  I'm hoping to post here on a regular basis as a way to process my thinking and learning this year.  One would think that after 17 years of teaching seventh grade language arts I would have it all figured out.  Not quite!  What I discover, year after year, is that the more I know the more I realize I have left to learn.  I am lucky to work in a school district that values professional learning, and as such I have access to amazing mentors such as Ellin Keene and Diane Sweeney.  Just as important are the mentors I have sought out for myself, people such as Donalyn Miller, Teri Lesesne, Jim Burke, Kelly Gallagher, Patrick Allen, and the many other teachers who are part of my online professional learning network.  Each of them challenges my thinking every day.

One of the books I'm reading right now is Day by Day by Ruth Ayres and Stacey Shubitz (Stenhouse, 2011).  Ayres and Shubitz have formatted this book in such a way that it compels the reader to reflect on her practice and strive to become better.  Right now, I'm still on chapter 1, "Routines."  As I've begun my planning for the first few weeks of school, I've thought about the routines that help to make my reading and writing workshops run smoothly.  I know that establishing and practicing these routines is essential to the success of my workshops, but sometimes I get bogged down in the day-to-day minutia of my class that I forget to practice them with my students!  If anyone else out there is working through Day by Day, I'd love to have someone to share my thinking with!